Athens Greece starts rationing sugar, after flour and sunflower oil

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Some Greek Supermarkets Will Start Rationing Sugar Now Too
  • ATHENS – After limiting the sale of some flours and sunflower oil online, Greek supermarkets are turning to rationing the sale of sugar as well, now including in their stores, over supply problems. [with a maximum of four packs]
  • The New Democracy government said it would require companies to declare their inventory in some food categories

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World food prices climb in May, import bill to rise in 2017: FAO

FILE PHOTO: Canadian pork shoulders are being prepped on a butcher's counter at North Hill Meats in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on May 10, 2017. Picture taken on May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) – Global food prices rose in May from the month before after three months of decline, and the world’s food import bill is set to jump in 2017, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

Higher values for all food goods except sugar lifted prices on international markets 10 percent above the same month last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

Rising shipping costs and larger import volumes are due to push the cost of importing food globally to more than $1.3 trillion in 2017, FAO said.

This would be a 10.6 percent rise over 2016’s import bill, despite broad stability in markets buoyed by ample supplies of wheat and maize and higher production of oilseed products.

Poor countries that rely on imports to cover their food needs, and part of sub-Saharan Africa are on course for an even faster rise in their import costs as they buy in more meat, sugar, dairy and oilseed products.

All food categories except fish are due to add to rising import bills, as robust growth in aquaculture in many developing countries increasingly manages to meet domestic demand.

FAO’s food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 172.6 points in May, up 2.2 percent from April.

FAO trimmed its forecast for global cereals output in the 2017-18 season to 2.594 billion tonnes, down 0.5 percent year-on-year. Global wheat production is expected to decline 2.2 percent after a record harvest last year.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie, editing by Steve Scherer and Crispian Balmer)

U.S., Mexico to make statement on Tuesday after sugar talks

A worker looks to sacks filled with sugar at Emiliano Zapata sugar mill in Zacatepec de Hidalgo, in Morelos state, Mexico, March 7, 2015. Picture taken on March 7, 2015. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and Mexican officials planned an announcement on sugar trade on Tuesday after talks went into overtime this week as negotiators grappled with last-minute U.S. industry demands.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Mexican Minister of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo will make an appearance at 1:45 p.m. at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, the Commerce Department said in a statement.

Ross on Monday extended the deadline for the negotiations by 24 hours to complete “final technical consultations” for a deal.

Sources on both sides of the dispute said the U.S. sugar industry had added new demands outside of the terms agreed on earlier, despite an agreement that had already been struck between the governments.

An agreement in Washington would help avert stiff U.S. duties and Mexican retaliation on imports of American high-fructose corn syrup before wider trade talks expected in August.

A deal also would end a year of wrangling over Mexican sugar exports. The latest talks began in March, two months after President Donald Trump took office vowing a tougher line on trade to protect U.S. industry and jobs.

They are seen as a precursor to the more complex discussions on the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Exclusive: U.S.-Mexico sugar deal struck ahead of NAFTA talks; industry divided

By Adriana Barrera and Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The U.S. and Mexican governments reached a deal in a dispute over trade in sugar on Monday, sources said, averting steep U.S. duties and Mexican retaliation by Mexico on imports of American high-fructose corn syrup ahead of the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two sides were working on final details of a deal in Washington that would end a year of wrangling. The latest talks began in March, two months after President Donald Trump took power vowing a tougher line on trade to protect U.S. industry and jobs.

They are seen as a precursor as well as significant hurdle to the more complex discussions on the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada, which are expected to start in August.

One source said the sugar deal would benefit both the United States and Mexico, with another saying Mexico will agree to export less refined sugar and send a lower quality of crude sugar to the United States than it previously did.

Both sides also would avoid potentially inflammatory tariffs that could have kicked in if a deal was not reached.

Some members of the U.S. sugar industry, however, are not happy with the reported deal and were pressuring the Trump administration to stop it, one source said. Some of their Mexican counterparts also expressed anger at what they see as unfavorable terms.

ICE U.S. domestic raw sugar futures for July delivery finished down 2.9 percent at 27.66 cents per lb, in the largest one-day loss in over a year.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross came close to hammering out a compromise deal before an earlier deadline in May, but it fell through as the U.S. sugar lobby upped its pressure on U.S. lawmakers, said two sources familiar with the talks.

The powerful lobby includes the politically connected Fanjul family, Imperial Sugar, owned by Louis Dreyfus Co, and U.S. cane and beet growers.

Mexico had free access to the U.S. sugar market under NAFTA, but U.S. sugar refiners accused it of dumping subsidized sugar, undercutting their businesses. In retaliation, the United States slapped large duties on the Mexican sweetener, but a 2014 agreement suspended the tariffs in return for quotas and price floors for Mexican sugar.

The new deal would lower the proportion of refined sugar Mexico can export to the United States to 30 percent of total exports, from 53 percent, one source said. It also cuts the quality of Mexico’s crude sugar exports to 99.2 percent, from 99.5 percent, the source said, tackling a key complaint of U.S. refiners, who said Mexican crude sugar was close to refined and going straight to consumers.

The U.S. sugar market is protected by a complex web of price supports and import quotas, which confection makers and other critics say artificially inflates domestic prices. NAFTA opened the doors to Mexican sugar in 2008.

(Reporting by Adriana Barrera, Dave Graham and Anthony Esposito; Additional reporting by Christine Prentice in New York; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Paul Simao)

Panera rolls out ‘added sugars’ labeling on fountain drinks

The sign on the hood of a delivery truck for Panera Bread Co. is seen in Westminster, Colorado February 11, 2015. Panera Bread Co was to issue its Q4 2014 Earnings Release on Wednesday. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Panera Bread Co on Friday will begin to roll out new labeling of added sugars and calories in sodas and other self-serve fountain beverages, the first such move by a U.S. restaurant chain as food companies face rising demand from consumers to cut back on their use of the sweetener.

The move comes at a time when casual restaurant chains from McDonalds Corp to Starbucks Corp have been under pressure from slack demand and underscores the pressure that soft-drink makers are facing as sales decline.

The U.S. government last year said that companies need to detail how much added sugars are in packaged foods, but restaurants do not have any such requirements. Governments worldwide are also seeking to impose taxes on sweetened beverages.

Panera will also introduce six new low- and no-sugar teas and lemonades, an extension of the bakery chain’s shift away from artificial sweeteners and flavors rolled out last year, company executives said in an interview.

Panera said focusing on beverages was the next step to creating a healthier menu, after introducing its clearer labels. Sugary drinks are contributing to U.S. rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, the company noted.

“After food, we clearly felt the role of beverages,” said Panera’s founder and Chief Executive Officer Ron Shaich. “A 20-ounce Dr Pepper has more sugar than two of our chocolate chip cookies. Which would you rather have?”

Panera’s new drinks will sit on counters next to the traditional soda fountains, and be offered at the same prices. That will require the company to increase prices in some markets, said Sara Burnett, the company’s Director of Wellness and Food Policy.

Burnett said the company is reviewing its entire menu based on last year’s new sugar labeling guidance.

Panera first plans to roll out the new beverages in five U.S. cities, including Washington and Atlanta, and then nationally later this year.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice, editing by G Crosse)

California lawmaker makes push for health warning labels on soda

cans of soda

By Chris Prentice

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A California state senator is taking another stab at introducing a law that would require sugary drink manufacturers to put a warning label on their products, the latest effort in the “War on Sugar.”

Officials and public health advocates have heightened their criticism of sugar as a key contributor to health epidemics like obesity and diabetes, and California has become a major battleground in the fight against what they say is excessive sugar consumption.

San Francisco is battling Big Soda in court over a law requiring a warning label on advertisements for sugary drinks, and voters in four Bay Area cities have approved taxes on the products. On Monday, Democratic state Senator Bill Monning for a third time introduced a bill that would place warning labels on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California.

Similar bills from Monning failed in 2014 and 2015, but the lawmaker said he sees a rising tide of support.

“Certainly the victories in local communities show a growing awareness of the health risk posed by these drinks,” Monning said by telephone, referring to votes in November in three Bay Area cities approving soda levies. Voters in Berkeley had approved a soda tax in 2014.

“This is not a tax measure. We’re not taking products off the shelves. This is about consumers’ right to know,” he said.

The legislation would require companies like Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc to put warning labels on beverages sold in California that have added sugars and have 75 or more calories per 12 ounces. The warning would state that drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

Soda companies are already facing declining sales of their namesake beverages and trying to introduce new products to meet changing tastes.

“America’s beverage companies already provide fact-based, easy-to-use calorie labels on the front of every bottle, can and pack we produce,” said an American Beverage Association spokeswoman, adding that “misleading warnings” won’t solve complex public health problems.

ABA has sued San Francisco to block the city from introducing a warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages. It recently lost a legal challenge to block a soda tax from being rolled out in Philadelphia last month.

Coca-Cola and the ABA have been sued by a nonprofit group for allegedly misleading consumers about the health risks from consuming sugary beverages. That case is in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Leslie Adler)

U.S. farmers race to ready for Hurricane Matthew’s blast

Cars are seen along Deerfield beach near Coral Springs while Hurricane Matthew approaches in Florida,

By Chris Prentice

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hurricane Matthew, the fiercest Caribbean storm in nearly a decade, roiled commodities markets and forced companies from cane refiners to orange juice makers to shutter as it whipped its way toward the southeastern United States on Thursday.

Southeastern companies were closing down operations ahead of a storm that could threaten some two million tonnes of sugar and trees representing over 90 million boxes of citrus fruits in Florida. About half a million acres of cotton were at risk from torrential rain in North and South Carolina, where farmers have already been struggling during a rainy harvest.

Officials issued a state of emergency for parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas for the Category 4 hurricane that by Thursday afternoon had already taken the lives of 140 people, mostly in Haiti. Port operations along the coast were slowing or shut.

For commodities markets including U.S. sugar, orange juice and cotton, the storm prompted a volatile week of trade. Though forecasters like senior meteorologist Drew Lerner of World Weather Inc said damage to Florida’s sugar and citrus crops would likely be limited, producers were readying for the worst.

The storm has forced a shutdown of sugar operations just days into the harvest, said Ryan Weston, executive vice president of the Sugar Cane League, which represents growers in Florida, Texas and Hawaii.

“Depending on the intensity and path of the winds, hurricanes will knock the cane down to the ground, slowing harvest way down. It hurts this harvest and the next,” Weston said.

The storm was expected to hit Florida or brush along the state’s east coast through Friday night, then work its way up the Atlantic coast.

As of 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) Thursday, Matthew contained sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts up to 165 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was about 100 miles east-southeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, and was moving to the north-northwest at 14 mph.

Florida’s east coast, predominantly grapefruit country, was expected to bear the brunt of the storm. There, trees have already been weakened from disease, said Lerner.

“Our growers are already facing challenges,” said Nikki Hayde, senior marketing manager for Florida’s Natural Growers, a cooperative of about 1,000 citrus farmers throughout the state.

“We are trying to get out orders that were scheduled for Thursday and Friday on the road as quickly as possible,” she said.


The U.S. livestock industry was also closely tracking the storm’s path, likely to brush the hog-rich Carolinas.

Smithfield Foods, a subsidiary of WH Group Ltd and the world’s largest hog producer and pork processor, moved to protect people, animals and buildings from the impending storm, said company spokeswoman Keira Lombardo in an e-mail.

Crews at the port of Wilmington, North Carolina, prepared for Matthew’s winds by lowering container stacks and tying down equipment.

In North and South Carolina’s cotton-growing regions, farmers raced to bring in fiber from fields where rains have delayed harvesting and the plants were at one of their most vulnerable stages, most susceptible to the 2 to 15 inches of rain expected.

“It’s tricky,” said Michael Quinn, president and chief executive of Carolinas Cotton Growers Cooperative Inc. “The growers are harvesting as fast as they can.”

“We are closely monitoring conditions ahead of the storm and working proactively with farmers to help them prepare for a significant rainfall event. Governor McCrory has declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties in North Carolina as we brace for as much as 10 to 12 inches of rain in our coastal areas,” said North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Stephanie Hawco.

(Corrects quote in last paragraph to say “for all 100 counties in North Carolina,” not “for all 100 counties in central and eastern North Carolina”.)

(Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York and Theopolis Waters and Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Philadelphia passes soda tax after mayor rewrites playbook

Soda in Walmart

By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney scored a victory that eluded more than 40 U.S. public officials who took on the powerful U.S. soda industry when the city council voted on Thursday to slap a tax on sweetened drinks.

After a bitter, months-long battle, the city council voted 13-4 to approve a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet drinks. The council already approved the plan in a preliminary vote last week, and the outcome had not been expected to change.

The City of Brotherly Love became the biggest U.S. city to have such a tax. Much smaller Berkeley, California, was the first.

Similar efforts, including several spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, were defeated after intense lobbying from organizations like the American Beverage Association, which opposes the Philadelphia move and represents Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc.

The Philadelphia tax marked a major victory for health advocates who say sugary drinks cause obesity and diabetes. But experts noted those concerns were not the focus for Kenney and other backers of the tax as they took on critics complaining that “nanny state” public health measures intrude on residents’ personal lives.

Instead, Kenney rewrote the soda-tax advocate’s playbook. He played up the benefits of the cash injection from the tax for the city’s depleted coffers. In the first year, the tax is projected to raise $91 million, and he pledged to spend funds on public programs such as universal pre-kindergarten.

The strategic shift could lend momentum to movements in San Francisco, neighboring Oakland, California, and Boulder, Colorado. Residents of those cities will vote in November on similar taxes, which could deal further blows to a U.S. soft drink industry already hit by declining soda consumption.

U.S. soda consumption fell for the 11th straight year in 2015, according to Euromonitor data.


Bloomberg made public health a centerpiece of his tenure as New York City mayor between 2002 and 2013. He moved to limit smoking in parks and restaurants, ban transfats and require calorie counts posted in some restaurants.

On soda, he pushed for a tax, then a ban on soda purchases with food stamps, and finally a much-lampooned limit on the size of sugary drinks. His efforts were ultimately rejected, with critics decrying the moves toward a “nanny state.”

The strategy worked in Britain, where a new soft drinks levy was announced in March after officials emphasized the country’s obesity crisis, saying it cost the economy billions of pounds annually and was a huge burden on the state-funded health system.

That approach never worked in Philadelphia. Michael Nutter, the previous mayor, twice tried to pass a soda tax as a health initiative and as a way to plug a budget shortfall. He was unable to push it through the city council.

Kenney, who became Philadelphia’s mayor in January, had made a campaign pledge to provide universal pre-kindergarten, and he kept that issue as his focus. A spokeswoman said complex state laws on taxation made enacting a citywide soda tax the best option to raise revenue for that signature proposal.

Bloomberg personally contributed funding to support Philadelphia’s pro-tax campaigners.


Opponents of Philadelphia’s soda tax argued that the measure will disproportionately hurt the poor and prompt Philadelphians to travel to nearby suburbs to buy soda.

In Colorado, Boulder hopes to use soda tax revenue on health programs, and San Francisco and Oakland officials would recommend but not require funds raised to go toward obesity and diabetes prevention.

When Berkeley passed its soda tax in 2014, industry groups dismissed the measure as a fluke given the city’s largely white population and reputation as a hotbed for liberal measures.

But Philadelphia is the fifth-largest U.S. city, with 1.6 million people. “No one can trivialize it as they can trivialize Berkeley,” said Larry Tramutola, a California political strategist who worked on the Berkeley campaign and is currently leading the San Francisco and Oakland efforts.

(Additional reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Dan Grebler)

Production of Coke halted in Venezuela for lack of sugar

The logo of Coca-Cola is seen on the refrigerators of a food stall on the street in Caracas

(Reuters) – The Venezuelan bottler of Coca-Cola has halted production of the sugar-sweetened beverage due to a lack of sugar, a Coca-Cola Co spokeswoman said on Monday.

Venezuela is in the midst of a deep recession, and spontaneous demonstrations and looting have become more common amid worsening food shortages, frequent power cuts and the world’s highest inflation.

Production of sugar-sweetened drinks has stopped, but output of diet drinks such as Coca-Cola light and other zero-sugar beverages continued, spokeswoman Kerry Tressler wrote by email.

“Sugar suppliers in Venezuela have informed us that they will temporarily cease operations due to a lack of raw materials,” Tressler added.

Coca-Cola Femsa, Latin America’s biggest coke bottler and operator of four plants in Venezuela, added that it was hoping the nation’s sugar inventories would recover “in the short term.”

The bottler, which gets some 7 percent of its income in Venezuela, is a joint venture between Coca-Cola and Mexico’s Femsa.

Over the past several years, the combination of price controls, rising production costs, lack of foreign exchange, restrictive labor laws, and a lack of basic inputs such as fertilizer, have resulted in a drop in Venezuela’s sugar cane production with fewer planted hectares (acres) and lower yields.

Many smaller farmers have turned to other crops that are not price controlled and thus provide greater income.

The country is expected to produce 430,000 tonnes in 2016/17, down from 450,000 tonnes the previous year, and import 850,000 tonnes of raw and refined sugar, according to the USDA.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Josephine Mason in New York and Gabriela Lopez en Monterrey; Editing by Sandra Maler and Michael Perry)

Doctor: Sugar Eight Times More Addictive Than Cocaine

If you have ever told a friend that you are craving sugar and you can’t seem to be able to stop eating it, then you may actually be addicted to sugar.

Dr. Mark Hyman told CBS “This Morning” that in animal studies they found that rats go for sugar in a manner that was eight times more addictive than cocaine.  Hyman said that Americans are addicted to sugar and that most don’t know it because they see sugary food and drinks as part of their daily diet.

Hyman says that sugary foods are “deadly” to the body.  He said that sugar is a direct  cause of diabetes and obesity.

Hyman told the New York Daily News that the average American eats 152 pounds of sugar a year.

In a diet study conducted by Hyman that encouraged healthier eating habits and helped people cut their sugar dependence, the average person found their blood pressure falling by about 10 points.